Sunday, September 1, 2013

You Can Still Have a Smartphone and PC on ONE Device Despite No Ubuntu Edge

Some of you are disappointed just as I am that the Ubuntu Edge is not going to happen as planned.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ubuntu or Linux in general, Ubuntu Edge is a high-end phone and desktop PC concept developed by Canonical, a UK based Engineering company which provides professional support for Ubuntu, one of the more popular Linux distributions on the desktop.  It was planned for release sometime in mid 2014 if its ambitious crowd funding goal of $32 Million was achieved.  Unfortunately, the campaign ended without the goal being achieved.  However, on the bright side, it brought more exposure to Linux and Ubuntu as alternative operating system to Windows and MAC.

Despite the disappointment, there is no need to fret if you were looking forward to using a device with that concept in mind.  You can still have your cake and eat it too by pairing up Android with Ubuntu!  I like Android a lot.  I've been using it on my Samsung Stellar Smartphone since I upgraded my phone from an LG Envy Touch in November 2012 via Verizon.  At first, I wasn't interested much in a Smartphone, particularly when I saw friends who were using the iPhone.  The iPhone is a great device.  Don't get me wrong.  However, I really did not see the need to do things on the phone that you normally do on the computer and on a small screen to boot.  So when my LG started having some issues and I needed a new phone anyway, Verizon had iPhone and Android alternatives for upgrades to choose from.  I decided on an Android phone because not only was it cheaper but I already was used to using Ubuntu on the desktop and for those of you unaware, Android and Ubuntu are both based on the Linux kernel.

It took some getting used to a new OS (Android) in the first few days but I caught on pretty quickly and have found it very easy to use, which is why it has been widely adopted.  Despite the smaller screen, I found many cool things I can do on my PC on Android to be a great experience, especially when you're in situations where you are waiting in line somewhere.  I can simply use my Smartphone as a reader to read Amazon kindle books, browse the internet or play games while I'm trying to kill some time for my appointments.  Speaking of appointments, I can even use it to schedule appointments using the calendar program that comes with my device.

Now that I was high on Android, the one thing I have been leery of is actually using a Smartphone or a Tablet as a desktop PC.  I figured, "Who wants to do heavy duty word processing, crunching numbers or developing code on a small screen that does not pack a lot of punch (power)?"  Well, I was skeptical until I saw the resolution on the latest Android devices, particularly the 7 inch screens.  The latest Google Nexus 7 looks very impressive and so does the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 on Youtube Reviews.

So, if I was a Corporate Enterprise User, that would be extremely enticing to have the ability to slip a 7 inch high resolution screen in my purse as opposed to lugging a heavy laptop in a backpack or carrying case during business trips in airports.  Ubuntu 12.04 or higher is certified to run on a Nexus 7.  Now you can handle this one of two ways:  Root or Multi-boot.  Rooting the device would require accessing and unlocking it at the root level and wiping Android off and replacing it with Ubuntu.  You can restore Android if you back it up.  However, from past Reviews, I am not sure that this method is ideal as some Ubuntu versions are not optimized for the Nexus 7 yet because there is some lag.  However, better results were gained from a multi-boot situation.  (Multi-boot Instructions Here.)  As far as I know, Android did not have the capability to multi-boot unlike a Windows PC until fairly recently.  A developer in the Czech Republic created a program called "Multi ROM" which allows an Android device to boot more than one ROM (operating system).  You have to go through a series of steps to unlock your Nexus 7 at the root level and then install Multi ROM from your PC to your Nexus 7.  With an OTG to USB cable connector plugged into your Nexus 7, you can take an Ubuntu USB and plug it into the OTG to USB cable for your Nexus 7 device to access.  (See example below.  I was only able to find a good one in Italian so I apologize to the English speakers.)

With an Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard that fits perfectly to your Nexus 7 as a protective cover when not using and as a docking station when using, you've got an ideal laptop replacement.  Add in a Bluetooth Mouse and its even more compelling.  If the Nexus 7 allowed for HDMI connection to a large screen monitor or TV like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, it would even be more ideal on business trips or for the mobile worker who visits various company locations.  (See example below.)

Because you are limited by the processing power of the Nexus 7, you would not be able to do CPU intensive activities unless you were accessing those programs via thin client and those programs resided on a heavy duty Enterprise Server.  However, that's something the techies in your company would take care of for you.  So, welcome to the Brave New World of computing.  More reasons why it's good to be learning and using Linux!

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